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Display Components – At InfoComm, I had a chance to visit with Osram GmbH (Munich, Germany) in their suite in the Peabody Hotel to discuss the Phaser. I visited with Dr. Jürgen Müller, Manager, R&D Projection Light Engines, and several of his colleagues. I was lucky they had time to meet with me since most of the time they were discussing the new Phaser technology with potential customers.
“Phaser” derives from “Phosphor” and “Laser” and the technology is Osram’s entry into the growing market for hybrid projectors with laser/phosphor light sources. The Phaser P1 I was shown was a prototype of the first Phaser product and had spaces for 32 blue lasers in a 4 x 8 array, from Osram Opto-Semiconductors, of course. Not all laser locations were populated in the demo. The lasers are focused on a phosphor wheel that has red and green phosphor segments on it, plus a slot to transmit the blue laser light. This blue light is re-routed internal to the Phaser to emerge with the red and green light.
The focusing lens, visible in the image, would normally focus all three colors (red, green and blue) to a spot on the entrance to a light tunnel integrator. This color sequential red, green and blue light would then illuminate a color sequential microdisplay. While Osram expects most customers would use DLP microdisplays from Texas Instruments, the system would also be usable with color-sequential LCoS systems.
The Phaser includes four main in-house technologies that are well known to Osram, including the lasers, optics, phosphor wheel and driver. Osram intends to sell the Phaser as a component and has no interest in licensing the technology. The Phaser will join other Osram light sources targeting the projection market such as the P-VIP mercury lamp and the XBO xenon lamp. Osram expects to sell the Phaser and its drive board as a set, much like how P-VIP and Philips UHP lamps are sold. One advantage the Phaser has over the P-VIP lamp, especially in home theater applications, is its ability to be dimmed from 100% to 0% smoothly in milliseconds, simplifying dynamic dimming.
The Phaser was developed by the Osram lamp group in Berlin, not by Osram Opto-Semiconductors in Regensburg. After development is complete (the photo in the Osram press kit did not match the Phaser P1 I was shown) and tooling is made, manufacturing of the Phaser will be done in China.
Dr. Müller told me that Osram believes that pure-LED projectors will be limited to about 2000 lumens, a position with which I agree. He said when the Phaser, when driven by 26 – 27 lasers, would produce 4750 white lumens. This was sufficient, he said, for a DLP projector in
the 2000 – 2200 lumen class. This is roughly equivalent to the output from a 180W mercury discharge lamp such as the Osram P-VIP or the Philips UHP. He expressed a willingness to customize the Phaser P1 for customers. This would involve mainly changing the output lens and the phosphor wheel angles for color balance. Presumably, the Phaser P2 and P3 with higher light outputs are on the drawing boards, but they were not discussed.
The demo in the Osram suite was of the Phaser itself, and was not a projector containing a Phaser. The demo put a bright, color-balanced white rectangle on the wall, an image of the output of an integrator.
Osram plans to have its customers put the Phaser logo on every projector, similar to what Texas Instruments has DLP customers do. While Dr. Müller and his colleagues would not discuss price with me, they said the Phaser would be price-competitive with laser phosphor sources from other vendors. In fact, they added, since the price of the blue lasers is a major factor in the unit price, there is relatively little flexibility in the price of these units. Maybe Osram was willing to go into more details on the price of the units with the Asian ladies and gentlemen who had the time slots before and after me in the Peabody.
Osram said they expect projectors containing Phaser light sources will be on the market by the end of the year. –Matthew Brennesholtz